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Blog Entry

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:47 pm
 
The Yankees don't think it was such a great month. The Phillies are sure it wasn't a great month.

Oh, and the Red Sox? No, the last 31 days weren't exactly pleasant for them.

But it sure was great for the rest of us, the best month of baseball most of us have seen, or will see, in our lifetimes.

If it gets better than this, I won't complain. But I'm not planning on it.

We had the best single regular-season night ever, on the final night of the regular season, and maybe the best game ever, on the next-to-last night of the World Series.

We had so many great games that the best individual offensive performance in World Series history barely makes the list. So many that Chris Carpenter's three-hit 1-0 shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5 wasn't even his most important performance of the month.

This is the third year now that I've written a postseason recap, and it's the first time that the best game of the month wasn't the first game I saw. Nothing against Tigers-Twins (Game 163 in 2009) or Roy Halladay's no-hitter (Division Series 2010), but it's a better month when the drama builds.

This month, we saw Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Nelson Cruz and David Freese. We saw squirrels. We saw Na-po-li. We saw history.

We saw Game 6.

What a month.

Here's a look back:

Best game: Some people are insisting that Game 6 of the World Series can't be called great, because there were physical errors early and possible managerial errors late. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. So it wasn't the best-played game ever. Fine. It had thrills, it had drama, it had plenty to second-guess, it had great performances and gritty performances. You go ahead and say it wasn't perfect. I'm going to say it was the best game I've ever seen.

Best moment: The flashbulbs going off when Albert Pujols batted in the seventh inning of Game 7 were great. Yes, it could have been his final Cardinals at-bat. But the best moment of the postseason -- Pujols' best moment -- was when he called time out to allow the Miller Park crowd to honor Prince Fielder, who very, very likely was stepping to the plate for his final Brewers at-bat.

Best chant: In the end, maybe this wasn't the Year of the Napoli, after all. But it sure was the month of the "Na!-Po!-Li!" at Rangers Ballpark. Mike Napoli became such an instant hero that I saw a Rangers fan who had altered his year-old Cliff Lee jersey, adding "Na-po" above the "Lee."

Best crowd: It was incredibly loud all month in Texas. It was louder than ever in St. Louis for the final outs of Game 7. But everyone who was at Miller Park this month came back raving about the atmosphere and the Brewers' fans (and everyone who was at Chase Field said there was barely any atmosphere for the Diamondbacks' two home games).

Best player: Tough call. Freese was a revelation, and not just in the World Series. Cabrera was outstanding. So was Ryan Braun. But Pujols was the guy I'll remember most, from his great defensive play against the Phillies to his historic three-homer game against the Rangers.

Best movie review: Moneyball took a beating every time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took to the podium. La Russa went to see the movie the night Game 6 was rained out, and the next night he said that it "strains the credibility a little bit." La Russa, like others, complained about the portrayal of scouts, and about the lack of mentions of Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. "That club was carried by those guys that were signed, developed the old-fashioned way," La Russa said. "That part wasn't enjoyable, because it's a nice story but it is not accurate enough."

Most disappointing team: The Red Sox. The Phillies didn't make it out of the first round. Neither did the Yankees, who then apologized to their fans for their "failure." But Boston's collapse was so bad that it led to the departure of the manager and general manager who broke the curse. The Red Sox will recover, but they'll never be the same.

Best prediction: It's well established by now that I can't pick winners. But when the postseason began, I jokingly wrote that every series would go the distance. Turned out I was almost right, as 38 of a possible 41 games were required. Three of the four Division Series went the distance (and none were sweeps). Both League Championship Series went six games. And the World Series went seven, for the first time in nine years. Oh, and I even picked the World Series winner, Cardinals in 7, even if I did it because Rangers officials demanded that I pick against them.

Five who helped themselves: 1. Pujols. I'm not saying it makes a difference in his final free-agent price, but a great postseason reminded all of us how good he really is.

2. John Mozeliak. You think Cardinals fans will finally admit that it was a good idea to trade Colby Rasmus to help this team win now?

3. Mike Napoli. The Angels traded this guy for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded this guy for Frank Francisco. The Rangers will not be trading him.

4. Ryan Braun. MVP voting includes only the regular season, and not the postseason. But anyone who chose Braun over Matt Kemp in the National League race had to be happy to see him hit .405 with a 1.182 OPS in October.

5. David Freese. He was the best story of the month, the hometown kid who quit baseball after high school, and came back to become the World Series MVP. Now everyone knows him.

Five who hurt themselves: 1. C.J. Wilson. He's still going to get overpaid on the free-agent market, but imagine how much he might have gotten if he'd had a good October, instead of a lousy one.

2. CC Sabathia. He's still going to get a great new contract, too, but imagine how much he might have gotten if his postseason ERA was 1.23, instead of 6.23 (and if his waist size didn't expand just as fast).

3. Cliff Lee. The team he left went to the World Series without him. And the team he couldn't beat in Game 2, after his teammates gave him a 4-0 lead, went on to win the World Series.

4. Alex Rodriguez. Two years ago, he had a nice October and shed the label of postseason choker. This year, he went 2-for-18 against the Tigers and appeared on the back page of the New York Post as one of the Three Stooges (along with Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira).

5. Tony La Russa (for about 48 hours). I'm guessing Cardinals fans will now totally forgive him for the phone/noise/bullpen mess from Game 5. He's now the guy who has won two World Series in St. Louis, to go with the one he won in Oakland. Still one of the very best managers in the game -- in the history of the game, that is.


Comments

Since: Oct 20, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 12:17 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Danny, I don't know how old you are, and certainly there is room for disagreement, but if you are old enough to have seen Game Six in 1975, I'd have to disagree with you about the best game ever. The sheer drama of Reds-Red Sox and Carlton Fisk "willing" his game-winning home run to stay fair does it for me. Of course, I was 25 then and I'm 61 now, so maybe it's just that it happened when I was young. 
Sorry, Mike, but that was a great MOMENT.  Nobody talks about the rest of that game, only Fisk's HR.  Everyone will talk about the entire game 6 for years to come.



Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 10:58 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

What I'll remember most about this season was all the unlikely heroes. Dan Johnson of the Rays, with the homer to save Tampa's season. In a twisted sense, Nolan Reimold and Robert Andino of Baltimore, to everyone who was rooting against the Sox. Nyjer Morgan, the guy you root against, gets the walkoff to finish Arizona. Mike Napoli, the quiet chubby 8th-place hitter, now a cult hero in Arlington. Jason Motte, a position player-converted pitcher-converted nasty, flame throwing shutdown closer. And, of course, David Freese, frat brah-converted hometown hero. Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter were great as always(although Carps still as much of a jerk as always), but I will honestly never remember that 3-HR game when I remember this postseason. You came in thinking it was gonna be Red Sox and Braves, with the Phillies and Justin Verlander dominating. Look what you ended up with



Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:51 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

spacejammer53, you struck a chord when you wrote:
Before i go further i will admit i'm a Cardinal fan born and raised---HOWEVER, i am a baseball fan first and a cardinal fan next.  That is why the Cardinals are the best organization in baseball.  We love and support our team but we love the game more.
I am a handful of years older than you and I grew up outside Buffalo, (no MLB in the area until Toronto got a team in '77).  While I have the Rockies listed as my favorite, I have always been a Cardinals fan.  I am a fan precisely for the reason you mentioned; St. Louis is - hands-down - the best baseball city in the world.  The passion that the city wears on their sleeve for the team every single year is infectious.

At the core, I believe that people are fans because it provides an opportunity to publicly display passion, and that's a good thing for us.  St. Louis deserves another championship because the city makes baseball a better game.  The team has an extraordinary history with tremendous players and a gaudy number of WS championships; the fans, however, are what make the Cardinals the best organization in baseball.  (I am not hating on any other team; I have lived in NYC and the Yankees may be the most-storied franchise in all sports - the NHL Canadians must be mentioned as contenders - however NYC is too large for everyone there to live-and-breath NYY baseball.)  St. Louis reminds of why baseball was once known as "America's pastime".

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals, the players and management did a phenomenal job.  Congratulations are actually most in order for all St. Louis Cardinal fans!




Since: Apr 24, 2008
Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:13 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

BEN4573, Were you watching the hole series or just a few pitches in game 7? Holland was getting the inside pitch outside the black on numerous occasions along with Colby Lewis.. Ogando was terrible the hole series and was wild. When you bring in a pitcher that has no control hitting batters you are not going to get perfect pitches on the black called all the time. You are a complete fool to say that a few pitches with the bases loaded cost the Rangers the series. The Rangers should have won game 6 and clearly blew it themselves Twice !! Not the Umps. Get a life. CONGRADS CARDS WORLD CHAMPS !!  



Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:07 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Game 6 was definitely one of the best, not sure it was absolutely the best.  If you didn't love the drama, you have no soul.  The last day of the regular season was the best that I can remember.  Of course, if Uncle Bud has his way and expands the playoffs, we will never get another one like it because the Red Sox and Braves would also have been in.



Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:06 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

I am so glad the BCS did not choose the Yankees and the Phillies for the BCS World Series!   I am glad that we got a chance to see the best hitter in baseball do his stuff and watch the 8th team to qualify for the playoffs win it all. 



Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:46 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

This was by far the worse World Series ever. I am not a Rangers fan but ended up rooting for them to beat the Cardinals. The Rangers were cheated out of the world series by the umps. How can they win if the umps will not give them a strike. That pitch that ended up walking in a run that gave them insurance was strike 3. They should get rid of the uniform is an extension of the body. If it hits the player's uniform it should just be considered a ball not a hit batman. Bad calls galore against the rangers in this world series. THE cards played well but it could have gome the other way if the umps made some good calls. The strike zone was terrible. Do not know what these umps were looking at.



Since: Feb 8, 2009
Posted on: October 30, 2011 5:33 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Amen, Mr Knobler. It really has been a season of amazing stories and truly a season to remember. The epic collapse of the Red Sox and the Braves. The incredible run for the Cardinals going from 10.5 games out to start September to winning the wild card on the final day. The final week of games between the Rays and the Yankees to determine the AL wild card. Watching the race for NL MVP between Kemp and Braun with Ryan fighting for the Batting title until the final day and Matt teasing for the triple crown.
Then comes the playoffs with the Tigers taking down the Yanks in a close series. The Rangers looking unstoppable toppling the Rays and Tigers with Nelson Crruz and Mike Napoli playing out of their minds. Then the Cards pull off what almost no one thought they could and take down the Phils and the Brewers who were the top two teams in the NL. In one of the most memorable game great friends and former team mates, the aces meet with Chris Carpenter beating Roy Halladay 1-0 at Citizens Bank Park. The Cardinal just kept on impressing. Alberts 3 Homer game being probably the best offensive game ever in a World Series Game. Then the best thing of all WORLD SERIES GAME SIX wow, you couldn't make that up. The Rangers were one stike away two different times from winning their first championship. The Cards coming back from down two in the ninth and then two more in the tenth and winning it in the 11th was so thrilling and amazing. Honestly anyone who doesn't think it was one of the best world series game ever is crazy. It had 5 ties, 6 lead changes, extra innings and a walk-off homerun who cares if there were a few errors and gaffes they just add to the drama. Then finally you have Carpenter coming back to pitch on three days rest and help the Cardinals win their 11th and probably most entertaining championship ever. You just don't get baseball like this every year. I can't wait until next year, I love baseball!



Since: Nov 12, 2007
Posted on: October 30, 2011 5:28 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

Umm, if you want to alk about the strike zone.  Let's talk about the strike zone Holland got in game 4.  When they replayed his strikeouts with the strike zone chart, all but one of them were balls.  Holland's strike zone that night was the size of Texas while Jackson was getting squeezed.  Kulpa blew the call the night before at first with Holliday and felt the need to make up for it by giving anything within 6" of the strike zone a strike.  The announcers tries to excuse it by saying there are always 5-6 bad calls in a game. Nop other game did the announcers talk about 5-6 blown calls, only the one at first with Holliday in a 16-7 blowout that did not matter.  It's amazing that is the only game the Cardinals didn't score a run.  But of course it is hard to get a hit when everything the pitcher throws is called a strike.



Since: Oct 30, 2011
Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:51 am
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

In 1975 I was 12 years old and i remember that game vividly as well as that foul pole bangin' homer by fisk and his emphatic arm wave and bunny hop to implore the ball to stay fair.  No doubt an indelible moment in baseball lore that will never be forgotten.

BUT PLEASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSE!!! c'mon give me a break-----BETTER THAN GAME SIX THURSDAY NIGHT??  NO WAY--NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Before i go further i will admit i'm a Cardinal fan born and raised---HOWEVER, i am a baseball fan first and a cardinal fan next.  That is why the Cardinals are the best organization in baseball.  We love and support our team but we love the game more.

This years game six was the best game in the history of baseball-------EVER!!!

1)  The Rangers had the lead 5 times in that game---count em!!!  At the end of the 7th inning they had a 3 run lead and their fabulous bullpen was set-up for the kill.  GAME OVER!!  Craig homers in the 8th and the 9th inning starts with the Rangers up by 2.

2)  The cards get two on with two out and up walks David Freese, the NLCS MVP.  With 2 strikes on him and the plastic already pulled down in the Rangers clubhouse to ward off champagne spray he blasts a 2 run triple off the right field wall---GAME TIED!!  The plastic is rolled back up as extra innings ensue.

3)  Josh Hamilton rips a 2 run homer in the top of the 10th.  A crushing silence in Busch stadium.  GAME OVER!!!  The plastic comes back down.

4)  The Cards rally for a second time and tie the game on a single by the Big Puma----a 2 out 2 strike single.  The plastic goes up!!

5)  Up walks David Freese in the bottom of the 11th and smacks a 415 foot bomb into the centerfield berm.  As he rounds the bases amid the loudest din I have ever heard in any sporting event, the plastic goes back up as Joe Buck copies his father Jack's implorement word for word---WE'LL SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT FOR GAME SEVEN.

Someday,  there may be a game to top this one----BUT I SERIOUSLY DOUBT THAT IT WILL EVER HAPPEN.    &nbs
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